Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ita Ignites A Storm with Rupert Murdoch Claim

What was Ita Buttrose AO OBE thinking ?. Was it a carefully planned statement or a throwaway line ?. Certainly three of Sydney's top society gossip snoops believe the former.

Ita Buttrose and Prof. Ross Steele
Ros Reines ( Sunday Telegraph), Andrew Hornery ( Sydney Morning Herald) and Annette Sharp (Daily Telegraph) were speaking yesterday at the Secret Women's Business charity lunch at Quay restaurant and basically inferred that Ita had known exactly what she was doing when she made the claim about Rupert Murdoch.

It's already had a run on the top US political website Raw Story and from there it is just a matter of time before it hits the British tabloids.

Ita was talking during the second part of her Australian Story interview- Ita Tells Me So.

Near the end of the program Buttrose- former editor-in-chief of Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, said that Rupert Murdoch instructed her to have a subject tailed because legitimate reporting techniques were not producing the desired results.

“I assigned a reporter to do it but [Murdoch] wasn’t happy with the result and said, ‘No, that wasn’t good enough. Have you followed this person?’” she recalled.
“I can’t give this instruction,” Buttrose later told then-News Limited chief executive Ken Cowley. “I’m not having anybody that works for me, for whom I’m responsible, follow anybody. I don’t want to be a part of it.”

During the credits of the show the following statements appeared :

“Mr. Murdoch has never asked any journalist to do anything improper,” 
a ( News Corp) spokesman said.
“Mr. Cowley has never been asked by Mr. Murdoch to have a reporter conduct surveillance of any kind on any individual and nor would he have agreed to it had he been asked by Mr Murdoch or anyone else,” 

Buttrose has been one of Australia's most successful female publishers having worked for both Murdoch and Kerry Packer. In 1972 she was hired by Packer to launch the Australian edition of Cosmopolitan but when the deal fell through, she and Kerry devised Cleo, one of Packer's most successful publications of all time. The story was told in the recent two part telemovie Paper Giants.The Birth of Cleo.

And even odder was her brother Julian Buttrose's friendly exhortation to spare fellers to give Ita a call and ask her out on a date. The last few times we've seen Ita out and about ( as our picture shows) she has been on the arm of the French tutor Professor Ross Steele. In fact the two sat front row at the Myer parade just ten days ago.

The ABC program Australian Story can be watched here.